Marine Corps officers reprimanded

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – A major general and two senior officers have been disciplined for their roles in investigating the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha in 2005, the Marine Corps said yesterday.

Maj. Gen. Richard A. Huck, former commanding general of the 2nd Marine Division, has received a letter of censure from the secretary of the Navy for the “actions he took and failed to take” in response to the killings.

The statement from the Marine Corps does not elaborate.

Col. Stephen W. Davis and Col. Robert G. Sokoloski also received letters of censure.

Davis was cited for failure to take action when informed of the slayings. Sokoloski was cited for unsatisfactory performance of his duties.

“Accountability and responsibility are the foundation of all we do as Marines,” said Gen. James T. Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps.

“While these three officers have served their country and corps exceedingly well for decades, their actions, inactions and decisions in the aftermath of the Haditha incident did not meet the high standards we expect of Marine senior officer leadership,” Conway said.

Phone messages left by The Associated Press seeking comment from the three officers were not immediately returned.

Maj. Gen. Stephen T. Johnson, former commanding general of II Marine Expeditionary Force, was fully exonerated, the Marine Corps statement said.

In all, 24 civilians were killed by a Marine squad in the aftermath of a bomb blast that killed one Marine on Nov. 19, 2005. Among the dead were women and children who were killed in their homes as Marines went on a house-to-house sweep.

In Washington, a senior Marine official said that “no investigation was initiated immediately” after the killings. He noted that the first probe started when the media reported the killings in February.

“There was no evidence of an intentional coverup,” he said.

The official briefed Pentagon reporters on condition of anonymity so he could speak freely about the personnel matter.